HOMER, Ill. — L. Carl “Sammy” Goad had the means to live anywhere he pleased, but he chose to stay in his small, quiet hometown of Homer.

Now, the village’s downtown is getting a much-needed face-lift thanks to a parting gift from the nearly lifelong resident.

Mr. Goad, a World War II veteran and retired accountant, left the “vast majority” of his estate — $3.6 million — to the village when he passed away on June 18, 2016, at age 90, said Mayor Ray Cunningham.

Recently, the town board accepted the L. Carl Goad Charitable Trust, at Busey Bank, “to be used exclusively for the betterment of the village.”

“It’s amazing to have this happen,” Cunningham said, adding that Mr. Goad’s intent was to create a permanent endowment fund for his beloved hometown. “Towns just don’t get this opportunity.

“He has given more to this town through this endowment than any single person,” continued Cunningham, also the village’s historian. “He was very grateful to the town and the people who lived here. And I know that everyone is grateful for this gift.”

Mr. Goad was born on Sept. 2, 1925, in Longview to Sam and Alta Goad. He had three sisters and three brothers.

During the Great Depression, “his family was so poor that he was sent to live with a local family, and he was not treated well,” said Cunningham, who, as president of Homer Historical Society, conducted several oral history interviews with Mr. Goad.

“He was always hungry,” Cunningham said, adding that as a boy, Goad would peer into restaurants and watch people eat meals he and his family couldn’t afford.

“I think that left a big impression on him,” Cunningham said, adding that as an adult, Mr. Goad worked hard, saved and invested his money and led a frugal lifestyle.

One of Mr. Goad’s first jobs was delivering newspapers.

“I believe he was The News-Gazette’s outstanding carrier in the 1930s,” said Cunningham, who found a picture of young Sammy — his nickname throughout his life — riding a shiny, yellow bicycle that he won, along with a trip to New Orleans.

Mr. Goad attended Homer High School, where he made good grades and friends. He graduated in 1943 and then from the University of Illinois in 1948. Prior to finishing college, he fought with the Army’s 87th Infantry Division in the Battle of Bulge during World War II.

After earning his bachelor’s degree, Mr. Goad worked as an accountant. He worked in that capacity for the State Universities Retirement System of Illinois, in Champaign, from 1949 until his retirement in 1978.

‘He was very, very thrifty’

Longtime Homer resident Molly Shoaf recalled carpooling to work with Mr. Goad, along with four other community members who worked at the university.

“I worked in the purchasing division,” Shoaf said. “My husband worked for the athletic association, but that sometimes went into the night, so I road with Sammy. One year when my husband had to work at the football games, he asked me to take Sammy to the games since I had two tickets.”

Shoaf said Mr. Goad lived with and took care of his parents until they passed away — first his father, then his mother.

Mr. Goad was active in the Homer American Legion Post 290, said Commander Sam Shreeves. He said Mr. Goad served as the treasurer for many years and “built our finances up through fundraisers and investing,” while his brother “Goadie,” also a WWII vet, served as adjutant.

Mr. Goad also served as a trustee for the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Cemetery in the village, which the post maintained for 99 years up until recently.

“He was a great member of the post. He was tight, but he didn’t want anything to be wasted,” Shreeves said with a laugh.

Cunningham said Mr. Goad enjoyed geology and researched his family’s back to their roots in Kentucky. He also photographed and later videotaped local residents and events, from a Fourth of July celebration to a new business opening.

“He has thousands of photos. He left those to the historical society,” said Cunningham, who was poring over them on Monday. “I’m really grateful for that. Some of the photos he took of new building openings are the only photos we have of those things.”

But, the mayor added, he never led an extravagant lifestyle. He lived in a modest ranch house and drove a Saturn, although most people saw him riding his bike around town or strolling while listening to the radio on his headphones.

“He went to his military reunions, and he would travel with the American Legion, but those were really small trips,” Cunningham said. “He was very, very thrifty. This was someone who wrote down every transaction he made. He saved and invested, and he led a very frugal life. It was just his way. No one was aware of his wealth.”

Up to $180,000 a year

Cunningham said Mr. Goad made a number of donations to the village, the historical society and library, among other organizations. The donations to the library allowed it to move from a very small space to its current location.

Mr. Goad also provided several scholarships, Cunningham said. However, he insisted remaining anonymous.

The mayor said Mr. Goad let him in on the fact that he had “somewhere above $3 million” and his interest in leaving it to the village.

“I asked him, ‘What would you like us to do with it?’ He and I talked about the revitalization of the downtown, and what we could accomplish with that. … Prior to the gift, we had outlined what our strategic goals were. The thing that was always at the top of the list was the revitalization of the downtown.”

Through the trust, the village will receive anywhere from $91,000 to $180,000 a year, depending on the performance of the fund, Cunningham said.

First up: Rebuilding sidewalks, upgrading streetlights and improving drainage in the downtown.

“The last time the downtown got any concrete was in 1986,” he said, adding the sidewalks are crumbling. “They’ve moved and become uneven.

“Prospect Bank recently renovated their whole building. I really felt bad we couldn’t do anything with the sidewalks at that time. Now we’re going to do both” on Main Street, “and we’ll include some of the sidewalks on First Street. We had been looking for grant money over the years. But that was very difficult in this political climate. This answers the problem.”


Source: The (Champaign) News-Gazette


Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com

This is an Illinois Exchange story shared by The (Champaign) News-Gazette.